5/27/20 COVID-19 Update: Plan and Guidelines for Resuming IHLS Delivery Service

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Originally published 5/27/20 11:25 AM CT, Updated 7/10/2020 1:30 PM CT


Delivery is a part of our partnership with each library and its community. Each of us wants to ensure that the processes are safe for everyone from the IHLS staff driving the vans to your patrons picking up the materials. A working group of IHLS delivery staff members and staff members from nine member libraries are helping us to figure safety procedures and a plan to resume the responsible delivery of library materials. Each library needs to create its own plan for providing services, but it is up to all of us to make sure that the exchange of materials is safe for everyone.

As of May 27, 2020, our three IHLS Delivery hubs were holding over 16,000 items. Additionally, many libraries have held items and now wish to return them to the owning library. A need to get materials back home to their library increased with libraries planning to restore some levels of patron service and/or provide curbside service. IHLS Delivery wants to help libraries get their materials back and is willing to work with each library individually. We have also developed a set of guidelines for IHLS and libraries to follow in order to keep both the library and delivery staff safe.

Please email Operations Director Susan Palmer with any concerns or suggestions.

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IHLS Plan for Resuming Delivery Service

subject to change

Weeks 1-2

  • Prepare IHLS buildings and vehicles for the safe return of delivery staff.
  • Member Libraries may make an appointment with their hub manager to retrieve items. Social distancing recommendations as well as masks are required.   

Weeks 3-4

  • Deliver the items that have been held in our hub to member libraries. 
  • Pick up any tubs of items that libraries have ready for us.   
  • Return items to the hubs and sort them.   
  • Meet with RAILS delivery in Champaign for ILDS exchange. At that exchange, we will also exchange the IHLS libraries’ items that move between our hubs. Those items will be returned to the hubs and sorted.  
  • Make another delivery to libraries. IHLS will coordinate with the libraries to make sure we are delivering to everyone who wants their items.

Week 5

  • Pause to take stock, review data, and reevaluate routes.  
  • Poll the libraries as to when they anticipate resuming interlibrary loan 

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IHLS Resuming Delivery Service Calendar

subject to change

IHLS Delivery Reopening Calandar - JUNE = Updated 5/22/20IHLS Delivery Reopening Calandar - JULY - Updated 5/22/20

IHLS Guidelines for Safe Delivery During COVID-19

  • Determine the best exchange points that allow for the contact-free exchange of items:
    • Libraries that already have an easily accessible spot requiring little personal contact need to take no action; they are good to go.   
    • Collect data from our drivers to identify alternative exchange spots. 
    • Send emails to the libraries with problematic exchange spots.   
  • Switch libraries currently using bags to IHLS provided, easy to clean, smaller tubs.
  • Libraries will be responsible for any cleaning and disinfecting of their items.
  • Delivery will be responsible for cleaning lids and the outside of the tubs.    
  • Quarantine the items and tubs for 72 hours before putting them out for delivery to pick up. Also, place a label in the plastic holder on the outside of the tub as to the last date the items inside were touched.
  • An IHLS internal task force is examining our in-house procedures:
    • Develop standards to keep our sorting and driving staff safe.
    • Provide staff with the PPE (personal protection equipment) needed to protect them.
  • As libraries begin to open fully and begin interlibrary loan, our routes and processes will frequently be reexamined.

Materials Quarantine Procedures

IHLS Delivery Tub Handling Procedures flowchart: 1. Library packs tub with outgoing items. 2. Library dates tub with the date of the last time any item in the bin was touched by anyone (with or without gloves). 3. Library quarantines items in tub for 72 hours (3 days) by closing and storing the tub. 4. Library sends the tub to IHLS Delivery. Please note: drivers will not take tubs that have not been quarantined for at least 72 hours. 5. IHLS Delivery sorts the incoming items into tubs for receiving libraries. 6. IHLS Delivery dates the tub by placing a label with the date of the last time any item in the bin was touched by anyone at IHLS (with or without gloves) on the new tub’s lid. 7. IHLS Delivery transports and delivers the tub to a pre-arranged contactless exchange point at the library. 8. Library unpacks and distributes items to patrons using that library’s pre-determined materials handling and quarantine procedure (research data from IMLS/OCLC/Battelle’s REALM Project study suggest a 72-hour quarantine starting when the items were last handled).

Library Directors: Please Display this poster in your library's sorting area: Download 8.5" x 14" Poster

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FAQ – Resuming Delivery During COVID-19


1. What if my library is ready to resume ILL (Interlibrary Loan) before my neighboring libraries?

  • Good question. The answer may be that we will need to have enough libraries ready to resume ILL in order to begin delivery. What that magic number is has still been undecided. As we get further into the process of moving through phases, we will evaluate continually what makes sense.

2. Is IHLS quarantining the tubs of items for my library?

  • No. The reality is that we do not have space in the hubs to store all libraries’ tubs. Each library is responsible for quarantining their own materials prior to exchanging with IHLS Delivery. As we fill them, we are practicing good hygiene (washing hands, wearing masks, and wiping down the outside of the tubs).

3. I am not able physically to lift the tubs that drivers bring. I have always had them place the tubs behind my circulation desk. Am I able to just leave the exchange point where it is?

  • Unfortunately, no. This was a tough decision to mandate this. However, each of us has a responsibility to try and make the exchange as contactless as possible.

4. My library does not have a secure place for the exchange point. So now what?

  • We will work with you to help determine where a new spot could be created. Maybe (depending on your volume) a locked book drop-box might be a solution. IHLS is currently investigating potential solutions for contactless delivery.

5. I do not have enough tubs for the items that I am sending out of my library. What should I do?

  • When the first delivery exchange happens, the driver will take empty tubs to distribute to the libraries. Because space is limited in the vans, they may not have enough empty tubs to leave at your library. If that is the case, pack the remaining items in a sturdy container or box (put your library's name on it if you would like it returned), and we will pick them up during the next exchange. 

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